Healthy Watersheds Partnership Assessment
The HWP has an overarching mission to facilitate and promote the protection and restoration of watershed health throughout California. Efforts by the HWP aim to support a shift from single pollutant-based or single objective assessment to comprehensive and integrated monitoring and assessment of the health of aquatic resources and the watersheds that support them. Specifically, we aim to apply a systems approach that views watersheds and their aquatic ecosystems as dynamic and interconnected systems in the landscape connected by surface and ground water and natural vegetative corridors.
To achieve these goals, the HWP is in the process of developing a watershed assessment and accompanying publicly facing landscape assessment dashboard that will serve as an objective and unbiased foundation upon which natural resource agencies, managers, and stakeholders can base their resource protection and prioritization decisions
With our overall goals, objectives, and expected outcomes defined, we developed a conceptual model that represents the foundation of our systems approach and will be used to guide the assessment process and data collection. It serves our need for a common framework to work from as we develop the assessment tool.
This model represents one of many ways to conceptualize the dynamic and complex interactions of watershed drivers, controls, processes, structure, function and condition (adapted from Healthy Watersheds Integrated Assessments Workshop, USEPA and conceptual model for the Puget Sound ecosystem). Physical and biological features of aquatic ecosystems are controlled by a hierarchy of physical, chemical and biological processes operating across a wide range spatially and through time. These processes control how channel and habitat types are arranged or situated across the landscape (e.g. reach-scale channel types, pools and riffles at smaller scales). Biological features are also controlled by a hierarchy of processes, including community composition of riparian or aquatic species and location of suitable habitats for individual species (Roni and Beechie 2012).
The HWP assessment and development of the landscape assessment dashboard is in progress. We will add products here as they are developed - stay tuned!